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Don’t Let the Lectern Swallow You Whole!

Standing behind lecterns for the duration of a talk is something all public speakers should fight to resist. Avoid turning into a block of wood next time you give a speech by moving around the stage a little to keep the audience on their toes.

Every single year, tonnes of unique and interesting products enter the education market, and keeping track of what’s new and how to use them can be a challenge. One of the products we feel can really make a difference in a school is a good lectern, and you can choose the perfect one from the range of lecterns for sale at Red17. Do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions at all.

Read more: Is Your School Fully Equipped?

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Prepare and Practice, but Remember It’s Normal to Feel Nervous

When you give a talk, it can be very hard to make your body move naturally. “Caged tiger” movements and “block of wood” motionlessness will often take over nervous novices, but even some experienced presenters will fall into these bad habits. Other than the occasional, seemingly random flap of a hand, block-of-wood presenters will stand with all muscles tense and joints locked into position, motionless. Meanwhile, in what seems like a bid to induce motion sickness in the audience, the caged-tiger presenter is never still, restlessly pacing back and forth.

Make sure you’re fully comfortable with your material by practicing as much as you can. The best way to overcome anxiety is through thorough preparation. It’s well worth going over your notes a few extra times, even if this takes up an hour or so of your day. Trembling hands and wobbly knees are physiological reactions that everyone will feel to some extent. It’s not a bad thing to feel a little nervous.

You just need to make sure you don’t allow yourself to associate feeling nervous with failure, because there’s no real reason that something as simple as nerves will actually make you make a fool of yourself. Some nerves can actually make you more aware of your surroundings and wake you up a bit, so embracing this adrenaline rush can help you give the best performance of your life (even if it does make you sweat a little).

If you have time, critique your own reading by recording a practice run, or get a friend to critique your reading for you.

Read more: Improve Your Public Speaking in 7 Easy Steps

Somewhere between the two extremes of constant movement and motionlessness, you will find the ideal public talk. You want to avoid moving so much that you distract the audience from the points you’re trying to make, but still make just enough movements that you look natural and avoid looking like a statue. Moving with purpose is the aim of the game.

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Channel Your Inner Martin Luther King Jr.

Let’s be real: Your speech probably won’t be quite as important as Martin Luther King Jr.’s, and it’s not likely to have the same impact on the entirety of society. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from him. The words that King shared were instantly transformed by his recognisable voice and great gift of musicality. It’s said that he drew inspiration from a number of different sources including Shakespeare.

He likely also benefited from his career as a preacher. King wanted the world to know about his cause and to care about the equality he was fighting for – that’s what’s important here. It’s no good sounding great if you don’t have the carefully crafted speech to back it up. If you want to be an effective public speaker, you need to learn to combine your voice with your words and your passion.

Read more: 6 Great Public Speakers and What You Can Learn from Them

Martin Luther King Jr - black and white picture

Always reinforce your message with movement, rather than allowing your body to become a distraction. Try considering the following.

1. Dialogue

Choose a separate place to stand for each character’s dialogue, whether that’s for the pros and cons of an argument or a story with two characters speaking. This will help your audience follow along.

2. Reinforce Your Main Idea

Move closer to the audience whenever you want to reinforce a key point in your speech. This subconsciously implies that this is something worth listening to, because it’s the same type of body language you’d use if you were sharing a particularly juicy piece of gossip with your friends.

3. Point Emphasis

Separate your ideas visually at each new point you make by taking a pace or two to one side or the other. If your audience is large enough, you may benefit from dividing it into three sections in your mind. Begin by addressing the section on the left, then turn slightly to speak to the section on the right, before delivering the key points of your argument right to the centre of your audience.

4. Move through Time

Use your position on the stage to demonstrate a timeline within your speech. When you talk about the past, stand to the left of the audience. Move to the audience’s right to talk about the future, or to the centre to talk about the present.

Standing still to make a point will prompt the audience to come in and focus on what you’re saying for a moment – then you can move when you’re transitioning between points. This will reinforce your message, keep your movements natural in appearance and keep the audience’s attention. Practice, practice, practice: As with everything, the more you do it, the more natural it will appear.

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